Less Children in Japan

Update: May 9, 2016 – I saw this in this morning’s paper:

The number of people skiing or snowboarding in Japan peaked at 18 million in 1998. The figure fell to less than a half of that number, 7.7 million, in 2013 due to the declining birth rate and the graying of Japanese society.

A survey by the tourism agency in fiscal 2010 found that people in China, South Korea and Australia prefer skiing and other winter sports rather than golf, mountain climbing and marine sports when they travel to Japan.

I read this news item in the Japan Times today, “Number of Children in Japan Declines for 35th straight year to hit record low”. There are 8.22 million boys and 7.82 million girls under the age of 14 which is only 12.6% of Japan’s total population, which is also an historic low. 150,000 less babies were born this past year than young people turned 15 which caused the decline. In looking at the 12-14 year old numbers versus 0-2 year old numbers, there are about 360,000 less in the younger group, which signals a further decline. The only prefecture (of 47 total) that recorded an increase in births from the previous year was Tokyo and that indicates young workers are moving there for jobs.

Seeing this population trend as an educator in Japan, this does not bode well for schools here. Less students means overall declining enrollment and schools need to consider either downsizing or trying to lure international students, which many universities are now doing. Our school is seeing an increase in enrollment but we are not dependent on the local population as Article I and public schools are. I see increased competition for students and schools closing in the near future.

In looking at the country as a whole, the 126 million today will be reduced to 116 million in 15 years and looking longer term, down to 87 million by 2060, if the rate of decline continues. That is still super crowded compared to California, which is roughly the same size as Japan, but has only 40 million people. The less people are good in one way, but with a high percentage of who is remaining elderly, it will cause a lot of problems in caring for them. Many villages and rural towns and cities will depopulate or even disappear. The government needs to put in measures to encourage families to have more children, increase immigration (without disrupting the unique culture of the country) and find opportunities for the elderly to contribute to society.

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